Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Ireland, refugees, and the white world’s wars

The inglorious history of the white world – Europe and its North American and Antipodean offshoots – continues to play out before our eyes with the current refugee crisis. It is portrayed as a crisis for Europe, or more specifically for the EU. In reality it is the manifestation of a series of crises for the refugees themselves, a consequence of their absolute desperation. And those crises – in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Libya, Somalia and other non-white states and regions – must be laid at the door of the white world.

The refugees are being divided into worthy refugees and unworthy migrants.

Worthy refugees come from war-ravaged Syria and, more grudgingly, from war-ravaged Iraq. They flee, seeking refuge from the fear of imminent death by bombing or shooting.

Unworthy migrants come from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, North Africa and other war-ravaged areas. They flee, seeking refuge from imminent death from foreign intervention and resulting civil war, or from death by starvation and disease created by those wars.

Seventy years ago, Palestine was a thriving stable modern state in which women as well as men had a stake, and in which Muslim, Christian and Jew lived in harmony. The US and Europe contrived to destroy that through mass plantation of foreigners and the imposition of an invented state, Israel, which would act as a proxy for the US and Europe in destroying that Palestinian state, using military and other oppressive means.

Fifty years ago, Afghanistan was a thriving stable modern state in which women as well as men had a stake. The US, Russia and Europe have since bombed it back to the dark ages.

Twenty years ago, Iraq was a thriving stable modern state with good standards of education, health, employment and housing, with few signs of street-level sectarianism and with women as well as men having a stake. But Saddam Hussein was a despot, the white world told us. The US and Europe have bombed it back to the dark ages.

Ten years ago, Libya was a thriving stable modern state with excellent standards of housing, education, health, employment and trade. But Gadaffi was a despot, the white world told us. The US and Europe, specifically in the case of Libya, Britain and France but with EU support, absolutely destroyed Libya, rendering it a completely unviable and very dangerous, destabilised, entity, bombed back to the dark ages.

Five years ago, Syria was a thriving stable modern state with good standards of housing, education, health and employment in which women as well as men had a stake, and in which sectarianism played little part on the streets. But Assad was a despot, the white world told us. The US and its allies in the area – Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the EU with Britain and France once more taking the lead, seized on internal unrest to destroy Syria. They, and their proxies, bombed it back to the dark ages.

The list of countries destroyed goes on. The list of bad despots is being reduced. The list of good despots remains intact.

And what of the response of Europe to the flow of refugees arising from all of that destruction?

Germany is being lauded for its generosity in taking in excess of 800,000 refugees, mainly from Syria. The German people are a generous people, as most people are, and they should be praised for their individual and collective acts of generosity in the face of such suffering.

But it is not to quibble to point out that the inflow of refugees is of great benefit to the German state and its economy. Very low birth-rates make both the state and economy potentially unviable. The arrival of a large body of well-educated and enterprising workers, well capable of supporting themselves and contributing to the German economy is a lifeline to Germany, where providing for example for future pension demands is a very serious problem without an expanding, younger, productive workforce.

The same is true across many countries of the EU, but some are complicated by a rise in xenophobia and racism whipped up by far-right parties. In the case of Britain, the ruling Conservative Party, responding to the rise of UKIP but a prisoner of its own imperialist past and present, can be lumped in with the far-right. France, led by a pseudo-socialist president, is busy re-establishing its colonial domination of swathes of Africa while the fascist-racist Front National rises closer to power.

And Ireland?

The response of the majority of Irish people has been humane and empathic. Generosity of spirit and offers of help including opening our borders to refugees flow from that.

In contrast with that the reaction, or lack of reaction, from the government is shameful. Addicted to neoliberalism, this government has studiously avoided tackling various national crises, including burgeoning homelessness, continued emigration of our young, the collapse of essential public services, the widening gap between the impoverished 20% and the wealthy, and so on.

Its reponse is to send a warship to provide humanitarian assistance, far from our shores. And that, effectively, is it.

Caught in the headlights of an election juggernaut over which the government parties have little control, and unable to read public opinion from inside the Leinster House bubble, our half-witted ministers flounder around trying to cobble a response, to no effect other than to embarrass the people of Ireland.

Public opinion needs to be expressed in louder terms. This government, representing as it does the desires and wants of the political class and its lower-order hanger-ons over the demands and needs of the mass of people, must be forced to act on behalf of the majority in this instance – the decent and empathic people of Ireland.

Open the borders. Give haven to refugees, and welcome them. Set the numerical bar high and not low – we can accommodate thousands of them. Some will eventually move home, or to other destinations. Hopefully many will stay and be part of us. They will be no burden, but a welcome addition.

And make reparation for allowing Shannon Airport to be used by US warplanes en route to bombing Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and en route to resupplying the Israeli murder machine.

That is the blackest stain on our national character. A proper response to the present crisis will go some way to removing it.

Refusing to ever again take part in the white world’s war on other nations and regions will help with that.

Our own history tells us that is the proper course of action.

We were refugees.


The Captains and the Kings

And so, back to normal. Well, almost. No sooner does the Head-of-State of one warmongering, exploitative, imperialist nation leave than another arrives.

The English queen is no doubt a nice woman, something she has in common with the vast majority of women in the world, including those of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine. Like many of them she is a wife,  a mother, a grandmother. Unlike them, she demands, and receives, extraordinary deference. Unlike them she is surrounded by a wall of steel to ensure her safety, she will never go hungry or live in a hovel, or watch her children die from starvation or treatable medical conditions. Unlike them, when a helicopter flies overhead it is to protect her, not to rain missiles down on her. If being nice was enough the world would be a happier place.

The English queen is no doubt an intelligent woman, something she has in common, again, with the vast majority of women in the world. Like them, she must know that it is wrong to kill, to steal, to cause disharmony, to wage war, to impoverish people to enrich yourself, to preside over the theft of land, resources and even nations, to initiate genocide or to stay silent when others practice it, to facilitate the oppression of people and their effective enslavement. The vast majority of women in the world do not consider doing any of these things. As the British Head-of-State, as an intelligent woman, the English queen knowingly involves herself through her armed forces and her public and private agencies in these crimes, constantly.

The English queen no doubt sees herself as a moral person. She is after all head of the Church of England by right of birth. The vast majority of women in the world would view a claim of that sort as blasphemous, being for the most part moral people themselves whether they belong to an organised religion or not. Having a moral framework set down by her own church, and being very well informed about her government’s policies, there can be no excuse for allowing or promoting all of the above. As a christian, the English queen must be aware of the Sermon on the Mount and what it means. Nowhere in there does it say ‘Blessed are the arms dealers, the oppressors, the warmongers’.

And what of her visit to Ireland, and the things she did and the things she said?

The Irish political class oohed and aahed at her laying of the wreath and her bowing of the head in the Garden of Remembrance. Maybe she meant it, and that would be good – showing respect for the actions of brave men and women is a good thing. But political class amnesia when it comes to ritual and protocol is a handy thing. The English queen is well-practiced at laying wreaths and bowing her head – it is what she does, and does very well.

The Irish political class was completely disarmed at the banquet the uninvited citizens paid for in Dublin Castle by her use of a few words of Irish as she began her speech, as if it was unique or original.  ‘Wow’, the First Mary said, followed by another ‘wow’. We were, fortunately, spared the ‘OMG!’. Get a grip. The English queen is well-used to doing this. It is, like laying wreaths and bowing the head, what ‘one’ does. And the Irish political class grasped at straws in their collective search for something, anything, that could be interpreted as an apology for the disgusting treatment of many generations of Irish people over many centuries by the armies and agencies of English kings and queens – and the straws weren’t worth grasping. Worse than that, the English queen sought to implicate the Irish people in those crimes, as if conflict with the English was ever something aggressively and gratuitously and by desire entered into by the Irish, rather than a necessary reaction in self-defence and in pursuit of national independence and freedom from oppression and exploitation by the English monarchs and the English political class.

The event at the war memorial at Islandbridge was another attempt (facilitated of course by the Irish political class) to implicate the Irish in the twin crimes of the First and Second World Wars. It is reasonable to suggest that very many of the Irish who took part in the 1914-18 version did so for economic reasons – ‘join up or your family starve’. Many others swallowed the spurious ‘Defence of Small Nations’ guff and did what they thought was right. There is an appropriate way to commemorate the sacrifice of ordinary men and women on the altar of capitalist expansionism, and feeding the British nation-building Poppy Day exercise is not the appropriate way.

And so, after four days of  near deification by the  Irish political class and their hangers-on, the English queen has ascended into the heavens boosted by four Rolls Royce engines, the sort favoured by the manufacturers of the tanks, warplanes and warships manufactured in England and peddled to brutal tyrants around the world. Saint Elizabeth she is not.

Hot on her heels comes one of the great disappointments of the political world, the man who promised much by way of change and changed nothing for the good, Barack Obama. The wars go on, the sin against the indigenous Palestinian people intensifies, the torturers remain in business, the Military-Industrial complex gets richer and fatter and more greedy, more people starve as Wall Street manipulates markets and commodities for profit. Old worn-out tyrants may go – not because the US wants them to – but new tyrants line up to take their place.

The Irish political class cannot wait for Air Force One to arrive. Thrilled with their success with the English queen’s journeys through over-policed empty city streets to venues where only the chosen few were deemed fit to be seen, the prospect of yet more vulgar self-aggrandisement is almost too much to bear. This time, the plebs will be allowed to take part in the adulation at the same open-air venue that that other warmonger, Bill Clinton, appeared at. Just like Clinton, Obama will scatter fine rhetoric to the four winds, meaningless rhetoric since we can be certain that what is promised will not be delivered.

But he is Irish, he is O’Bama, he is one of us. No he is not. He may have some DNA that connects him to this island, but that is all. He does not share the values that most people on this island most probably share – of non-interference in the affairs of other nations, of peace-keeping rather than war-making, of a sense of fair play and justice, of genuine compassion at the suffering of less fortunate people in the world, of a sense of solidarity with oppressed people in other places. We are not always good at looking after our own shop, we have many faults, we are far from perfect, but we do have a value system that at its core is decent, despite the worst efforts of the Irish political class to sign us up to the corrupt ‘elites’ of this world.

So, come Tuesday, it will be back to normal. Or perhaps it won’t be. Perhaps the Genie is out of the bottle. Perhaps we will remember how we were ‘locked down’ while others feasted at our expence. Perhaps we will remember how dissenting voices were ridiculed and silenced by a powerful hegemonic media – part of the political class and willingly serving its interests. Perhaps we will think about how the State views its citizens, at least most of them, as too suspect and dangerous to be allowed the freedom of their own streets. Perhaps, as another funding crisis hits the health service, or education, we will imagine how that €30 million spent on entertaining two human beings from outside and the political class parasites from inside might have been used.

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. Whatever the outcome, normal is going to feel, well, normal. Can’t wait.

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